Risk threshold for starting low dose aspirin in pregnancy to prevent preeclampsia: an opportunity at a low cost

PLoS One. 2015 Mar 19;10(3):e0116296. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0116296. eCollection 2015.


Background: Preeclampsia (PE) increases maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality. Based on a multitude of data from randomized clinical trials, clinical practice guidelines endorse using ASA to prevent PE in women who are "at risk." However, data are lacking about the level of absolute risk to warrant starting ASA prophylaxis.

Methods and findings: We present two approaches for objectively determining the minimum absolute risk for PE at which ASA prophylaxis is justified. The first is a new approach-the minimum control event rate (CERmin). The second approach uses a pre-existing concept-the minimum event rate for treatment (MERT). Here we show how the CERmin is derived, and then use the CERmin and the MERT to guide us to a reasonable risk threshold for starting a woman on ASA prophylaxis against PE based on clinical risk assessment. We suggest that eligible women need not be at "high risk" for preeclampsia to warrant ASA, but rather at some modestly elevated absolute risk of 6-10%.

Conclusions: Given its very low cost, its widespread availability, ease of administration and its safety profile, ASA is a highly attractive agent for the prevention of maternal and perinatal morbidity worldwide.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aspirin / administration & dosage
  • Aspirin / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pre-Eclampsia / epidemiology
  • Pre-Eclampsia / prevention & control*
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk


  • Aspirin

Grant support

This work was supported by a Knowledge Synthesis Grant from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.